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A2J Words Matter: A Legal Resource Center is Not Always a Law Library (and vice versa)


A2J = Access to Justice: Words and Names Matter

The Law Librarians at the State Of Wisconsin Law Library know that the difference between a Legal Resource Center or a Legal Information Center and a Law Library matters to Law Library patrons, whether they are lawyers or self-represented litigants. Read this article from their WSLL Newsletter, February 2016 issue:

Wisconsin State Law Library Year in Review – Julie Tessmer, State Law Librarian:

In 2015, the State Law Library embarked on a campaign to update our image in order to be more recognizable to all of our users. The first step in this process was to rename our branches located in the Dane and Milwaukee Courthouses from Legal Resource Centers to Law Libraries. We felt that “library” was a meaningful and clear-cut description for what we do. The name change has helped our users better understand all of our services, our staff’s expertise, and our many special collections….” [Link to full article.]

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2 responses to “A2J Words Matter: A Legal Resource Center is Not Always a Law Library (and vice versa)”

  1. I have often thought about this concept. I suspect, you could tear down the physical law library building, put up a single kiosk and call that a legal resource center. After 6 months, or so, people would forget there was even a full library and figure the kiosk is the best the government will give them. I mean, look how fast people forgot about 9/11?

  2. Laura Orr says:

    Hi Bret:

    Thank you for the comment.

    This has already happened in some courthouses and jails / prisons. There is some fault on both sides. You know as well as I do how many people think “a form” is all they need – no research, no lawyer (or even professional law librarian) consultation, no legal analysis, etc. And then they blame someone else when opposing counsel makes mincemeat out of and the judge rules against them.

    But the system is also “out to get them,” undoubtedly. For example, even the Small Claims Court process is deceptively simple and not many states provide small claims court clinics, let alone having in place any system for evaluating the success of their so-called “people’s courts.”

    And judges and lawyers think they are doing everyone a favor by making totally self-help fill-in-the-blank forms available online. A form is not “access to justice.” It’s just a form. It can help with filing and preparation, but it’s no substitute for talking to a lawyer when there are health and safety legal issues, let alone property, money, children, tax, and retirement and estate planning issues.

    I could go on, as you know. But keep up the good work on your excellent blog, which is both informative and hilarious!

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